Friday, February 6, 2015

Coffee Talk

It is actually in the afternoon when I am writing this, so technically it would be tea time, but really, I do love to ponder things over my morning cuppa, so the title stands!

What have I been pondering? Everything. It is February and dreary and dull. I desperately need something exciting, something new. So why not look at home school curriculum? I will admit it. I am in burnout mode over here. Are you? I am seeing what is going well and what is going less than well.

What is going less than well? The set up of the classroom.

As it stands, the classroom and the playroom are together in the loft on the third floor. We have only three bedrooms, a dining room/den, a kitchen, and one large bathroom. There is another bathroom, but I don't count it as one because the washer and dryer are in there and I use the shower stall for holding all the dirty clothes! That loft is the only extra space available for toys or classroom. But this leads to much temptation for students. In an effort to help them "avoid the near occasion of sin", I am contemplating moving all the children's beds upstairs and making it a dormitory. That frees up two small bedrooms, one for the classroom and one whose purpose is yet to be determined. My husband and his back are not huge fans of my idea and if they mutiny, then my plan cannot be executed.

What else is going less than well? Anna's curriculum.

 I am finding that Anna's vocabulary book is not challenging her. I believe it is time to jump ship midstream and try something new. And while I am at it, I will probably switch up her grammar. I am still trying to decide what I will use, but I have decided it is best to make a change. I am also pretty certain we will switch curriculums entirely in the fall. She will be starting 6th grade and I think she needs more than what we are currently using.

The burnout?

Well now. I know part of it is the winter blahs, part of it is frustration in the classroom, but honestly, it is the realization that I need to put more of myself into this endeavor and I just don't know where that inspiration is going to come from. It was hard to admit that I am not giving enough. Now I have to do something about that, don't I?

So. How do you handle the dark, depressing days before Spring? How do you cope with burnout? I would love to hear all about it! Go get your coffee and let's chat!


  1. I have so much to say and no idea what to say. That's just how funky my brain is right now. I have never felt depression, but if someone asked I would say I feel depressed. I think it's just too much going on and not much of it is enjoyable. I think that's one of the keys to happiness -- the ratio of enjoyable activities to unenjoyable. Right now a lot of school is not working. Faith just does not remember things and I am starting to worry that it's a neurological thing -- it's that constant. Of course, she remembers dance routines and elements of fun activities, so I guess it's just laziness.

    She used Seton's vocab last year and again this year. And we added Simple Solutions English to her other English (Voyages and Exercises in English) because she needed the daily reminders of more than one topic. It's helped. When I compare her to her peers, however, I fear she would not do well in school, or would be in the lower percentage of her class. That's depressing. Is it me or it is she?

    The only thing that has worked for us in regard to self-control (because the dog and cat are our distractions) is punishment. She doesn't get to play with a friend after school on many days, and if it gets worse than that, she loses computer privileges. I just keep taking things away. Eventually she gets it, but some days we're right back at taking away privileges. Six days out of five I want to put her in school (yes, I meant to type it that way).

    I also think loneliness is a huge aspect of winter depression, because on Faith's dance days (mainly Thursday because we're there longer and I know many of the moms) I am happier. I just think being with kids all day and no adult women to talk to is not good. We need clothesline chatter!

    1. Oh Barbara! I know how you feel!

      The discipline is honestly another thing that is not going so well. I know some of it is them (they KNOW what is expected of them), and some of it is me. I don't have a great system in place. This week, I am trying something new for all the sassy talk, back talk, and whining. I am having them lick a bar of soap for each infraction. I will let you know if I see improvementšŸ˜‰.

      I have Voyages in English, but not the lesson plans. I don't know why I let that stop me! I talked to Sophie (my oldest), and she said that the Sadlier vocab. books really helped her, so I think I will try to order her one.

      As to Faith's progress, I doubt it is you. I know you know this, but kids all move at their own pace. Olivia did not test well, though she could tell it to you quite nicely. Jack is a reluctant reader. Anna's stumbling block is grammar. I am actually taking them into the school next week to have them evaluated for learning disabilities. I am suspecting Jack may be dyslexic and I wonder if Anna's early speech delay could be related to her grammar woes now. I guess I want to rule out any problems before I try something new.

      I threatened sending mine to school last week! I am old and tired. It would be so much easier, but in my heart, I know that is not what God is calling me to do.

      And the loneliness? Yes! I am trying to make time for outings with friends, but I seem to get behind at home when I do. It is so hard to balance everything.

    2. I don't threaten Faith with school, but I remind her constantly that this or that wouldn't be tolerated if she was in in school. She has been known to give me right back all the reasons I homeschool (for which she gets punished for sassing). If she wasn't so involved in dance on Thursdays, and if dance wasn't such a great group of Christian families, I'd be a lot closer to putting her in school. As it is, I don't know about high school, and the thoughts of both putting her in high school and homeschooling it, terrifies me!

      We don't have a dedicated schoolroom -- just the kitchen table and a bookcase. You'd, of course, have to keep Peter nearby and move some of his toys, but could you just test it for a week and see if it might work? It's a bit of a pain to clear the work off everyday, but not if a bookcase or plastic tubs are close by.

    3. I had thought about working down at the kitchen table, but there is no place to put a bookcase. We would have to run up and down two flights of stairs for books! This house is much smaller than what we had in the states.

    4. First of all ((((hugs)))) for you both!! We do the kitchen table for Katherine, my 7th grader that has been diagnosed with ADD (they call it ADHD now even if there is no hyper part) We put all her books in a bin...more of a tote size...oh, I'm going to have to maybe take a picture of it and post it on Facebook for you Jenny. Anyway, the tote, when not being used during the day, is put away...pencils everything fits upright, so the lid cannot go on and the books can be looked upright...easier to find.

      Schooling an ADD child down here by the beach, away from home has been a nightmare. We had to "take away" math. SO she will be doing math this summer. She conveniently forgot her History Math and History all stinkin joy. (for the mama)

      I am so behind on my blog sorry it's been so long since I"ve been here Jenny. I've missed my good blog friends. Getting tired of Facebook.

      Love to you
      and you too Barbara!!

    5. Well, hello stranger! If we don't pick up the pace, we will be working all through the summer too! We ended up going back to the states for my mil's funeral right before Christmas. We basically didn't do school for a month.

      I plan on getting some magazine holders to help keep books organized for each of them.

      I hope you have enjoyed your time in the warmer climate.

  2. I feel like we are smack dab in the middle of winter burn out. We actually took this week off. I just needed a break. We started last spring, so we're close to the end of the school year though, so I'm telling myself it fits.

    I love the idea of a dormitory style bedroom to free up the other rooms. And whenever I suggest moving rooms it's always my husband's back that stands in the way of it happening. He is not a fan of room rearranging at all!

    1. I see this look of fear in my husband's eyes any time I mention moving furniture! I really want to try this dorm thing out, but it will require at least a whole day and I am already feeling the pressure to keep moving in the classroom.

      Good for you for recognizing the need for a breather and doing it! I hope you will be refreshed and ready to finish those last weeks of school!

  3. Hey Jenny! I am so feeling the blah-ness of February. I'm learning that I need to nurture my soul so much more. Been making time for more things that help me with this. Blog reading is one of them. =) Blessings to you.

    1. Hi Elisa! I will remember to pray for you every time I start to feel those blues. I agree that finding things to nurture the soul is essential. My knitting needles currently have a vibrant purple yarn on them, and it is deliciously soft too!

  4. Throwing in my two cents...! :) I have the February blahs BIG TIME! I'm longing for summer like I never have before. I think I'm in a really busy season right now, so doing school is just another thing on my plate. But we're powering through. For vocab, I have always used Sadlier and I love it. I would highly recommend ordering it through Kolbe, because you can buy the student books online pretty much anywhere, but Sadlier keeps their teacher manuals locked down pretty tightly. Kolbe carries the whole kit and kaboodle. I also swapped Voyages for Rod and Staff. I just love their progression, and if you get the accompanying workbook with the textbook, it's a really great program. Also get the teacher's manual for that one. We do school in the kitchen, but I also have a built in bookshelf there, so everyone has a shelf for books. What about getting each one a large bin where they can store their schoolbooks in the kitchen? Do you have a place where you could stack them off in a corner on the weekends and at the end of the day? That way you could keep everything downstairs during the week. You could even just carry them up and down the stairs over the weekend to get them put away. That might solve your distraction dilemma.

    1. Oh Kris! I am sorry that February is treating you so unkindly! I will add you to my prayer list too!

      The downstairs is really not big. The kitchen is not eat-in. The dining area is part of the living area and I also have the keyboard in there too. I hid the computer desk under the spiral stairs, which is fine for me. (I am 5' 2") My husband is a foot taller and he is having trouble not hitting his head!

      I will order the vocab book from Kolbe, though I think they said you could only get the teacher's manual if you were registered with them.

    2. Maybe that's how I have them - we used to be registered. Sadlier also has something where you can access some things online, but I've never looked into it. They are pretty locked down and oriented to teachers/schools and not homeschooling. Maybe some of that has changed. Or maybe you can find a used teacher's manual online.

    3. And thank you for the prayers - you are always in mine as well!!